Jesus And His Critics

SCRIPTURE: Luke 6:6-11

On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”

10 He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 11 At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.

INTRODUCTION

I confess, I have my share of critics and yes, even some enemies. I am aware that there are those who are literally praying for me to fail but we’re going to talk about JESUS today because He is the focus of this story and He is a much better subject. Plus, I am more comfortable talking about HIM than myself.

Before we get into the heart of the message– I want you to notice two things:

  1. Jesus had critics–Verse 9…”Jesus said to His critics.”
  2. Jesus had enemies–Verse 11…”The enemies of Jesus were wild with rage.”

JESUS AND HIS CRITICS

Unfortunately, we have naïve and ignorant people in our church who think that spiritual leaders should be so gentle, meek and mild as to have no critics or enemies. Dr. R.G. Lee stated long before his departure…”When my body lies in a casket and some preacher stands here and say, ‘Here lies Dr. Lee, he didn’t have an enemy in the world.’ Some help me, I will raise up and point my finger at him and say, ‘you are a liar.'” When Charles Stanley was elected president of the SBC, amid the tumult of the times {the liberals screaming in protest}, the liberal Baptist Press rushed to him with their microphones and ask, “How do you feel, though elected, knowing that so many hate you? I love his answer and it shut them up. He said, “Well, it puts me in the company of Jesus and Paul, they were both hated also.”

As I have reminded the naïve and ignorant more than once–Jesus did not die of old age–the Jewish religious leaders hated Him with a passion and they conspired to put Him to death. I know this was God’s plan and Jesus had to help them in places but the fact remain, Jesus was hated by the religious and the pagan.

Jesus was hated then and He is hated now. You can keep kidding yourself, but Corporate America has sold their soul to the devil and with few exceptions, they are anti-Christ. We can’t boycott them all but I suggest that we start with Starbucks and Walmart. Psalm 2 reads like yesterday’s new paper….Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.

With this understood: I want to say three things about Jesus and His Critics

I. JESUS KNEW WHO THEY WERE AND WHAT THEY WERE THINKING

My father in the ministry, Calvin C. Inman, said things that I found unbelievable until God called me to preach. One of the things he said repeatedly was…”I know who is praying for me and I know who is critical.” As a teenage boy, I thought, “No way, he cannot know who is critical and who is prayerful.” Husbands, let me ask you a question: do you know when your wife is mad at you? Does she have to tell you? We call this non-verbal communication and it is very real. You young people think I am making this up but you will discover the truth someday.

I’m like Bro. Inman, I have a sense of who is critical and who is prayerful and I know what you are thinking in general but Jesus knew specifically. He knew every sorted detail of His critics thoughts. Mind readers bother me; don’t they disturb you just a little? What if the incarnate Christ walked through these doors today. I’m not sure I could muster up a hardy welcome because I would be finding me a spot of the floor with head down, just praying he would not notice me.

To face HIM eye ball to eye ball and accuse HIM, no, no, not me! You can do it if you choose but I want no part of facing the sinless Christ with some flimsy accusation. That’s the devil’s job, not mine.

I don’t pretend to know what you thinking right now but JESUS knows and that fact alone should humble us.

II. JESUS ADDRESSED HIS CRITICS [V.9]

JESUS could have ignored them and He did on occasion but on this particular day, in the synagogue, He spoke directly to them. JESUS asked them a question: “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?

JESUS said in Matthew 7:12, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” We call this the golden rule…Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In Matthew 22 Jesus elaborates further…

36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

In Matthew 9:13 JESUS said to this same group of critics, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices. {Hosea 6:6}

Let me ask you a real easy question: what is missing in the lives of JESUS’ critics? If you said Mercy or Compassion, you were right. The Pharisees and Scribes showed no mercy, had no compassion and violated the two most important commandments which are to love God with all the heart and neighbor as self.

These hardened religious zealots did not care about the man with the crippled hand. They didn’t care about anyone. They were so obsessed with their laws and religion that they were insensitive to all the pain and suffering around them. They were concerned with laws, rituals, days…Jesus was concerned with people and their needs.

I know a woman who works hours to prepare the Sunday meal for her family but she never sits down to eat or rest until she carried a tray of food, including drink and dessert to her shut-in neighbor who lives by himself. I don’t think Jesus is upset with her for breaking the Sabbath, do you? The Sabbath is a good day to do a good deed.

III. JESUS STOOD UP TO HIS CRITICS

Oh how I admire Jesus. His courage is off the charts. I so want to be like HIM in this regard. He did not cow down to His critics, His enemies. Let me tell you something that I have taught for years: the devil is a play ground bully. He loves to accuse and to intimidate but he had nothing on Jesus.

Jesus basically said, “You guys want to scrutinize everything I do, well scrutinize this and he called the man with the withered hand to the front of the synagogue where everyone could see. Jesus performs the miracle right there in front of them. No smoke and mirrors; no secrets, no meeting behind closed doors. Jesus had nothing to hide. The irony of this story is: His enemies left the synagogue and had a secret meeting with the Herodians on how they could eliminate Jesus. Isn’t this amazing: they are guilty of the very thing they accuse HIM of.

A lot of people do well until they begin to get criticism: this is one reason preachers use to move so often. When the honey moon was over, they found another church. You will never be a force in the Kingdom until you learn to face your critics. Don’t kid yourself, if Jesus had them [He was perfect], you and I are going to have them. The only way to silence your critics is to drop off the radar screen, become a monk, withdraw from society, be a do nothing. If you lead the troops into battle, you have to know you will be fired upon. The only way to prevent that from happening is to abandon your post and run for cover. If you get out of sight and out of mind, you probably will not be criticized. In you fall in rank with the CHRISTIAN ARMY, prepare to be fired upon.

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